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JournalSpring2014

Coming of Age in the Struggle Talk to anyone who was there in 1963, and they will give great detail to the seriousness of the times and the sentiment ringing simultaneously in the hearts and minds of the young and old. Change was needed, and without the aid of modern amenities such as social media and cellphones, nearly 250,000 people miraculously gathered to demand and bring atten-tion to the necessary change. “At the age of 15 even though there were people of different rac-es and cultures there, it was over-whelming to see the multitude of black people gathered in one place. It was eerily quiet considering the number of people there, which confirmed to me the serious-ness of the march,” said Dr. Pau-lette Walker, National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. “That attentive quietness kept me so subdued. To know that we were there in that space and place at the same time indi-cated to the world our displea-sure with what was going on in this country.” “People were determined the 1963 march would be suc-cessful,” Simeon Booker, 95, for-mer Washington bureau chief for Jet and Ebony magazines, told Delta Sigma Theta. Booker, a seasoned journalist covering the civil rights era, was respon-sible for organizing 34 reporters and photographers to cover the historic march. In an Aug. 2013 column for Al Jazeera America, he described the National Mall on that day as an “orderly sea of humanity.” Soror Jacqueline Shropshire, Columbia (MD) Alumnae Chapter, shared an intriguing perspective that is often never told in history books. She spent her time on the mall during the commemorative celebration talk-ing to the children in her surround-ing area about the struggles of the civil rights era. “It’s important to let this genera-tion know about the struggle,” said Soror Shropshire. “Only then will they know how fortunate they are.” Soror Shropshire also spoke with Delta Sigma Theta about the internal battle of attendees traveling from across the country, particularly the South, left them torn between attend-ing the march or risk losing their jobs. The written history of the march fails to include the stories – as Shropshire explained – of African-Americans be-ing denied admittance in the hotels in D.C. making the only other alterna-tive s72 DELTA SIGMA THETA SORORITY, INC. to “brown-bag-it” to the Nation’s Capital, march, then make the long turn-around trip back home – regard-less of fatigue or the miles and hours traveled to get there. According to Shropshire, some were fortunate enough to be “in the know” and pos-sess a secret list of homes in D.C. and various cities along the east coast where residents rented their homes to shunned and weary travelers. When most teenagers would be more concerned with school dances and dating as opposed to the dis-course happening around the country, Shropshire was on the frontlines of the movement as it arrived in her home-town of Williamston, N.C. Her unyield-ing demand for justice and basic hu-man freedoms landed her in jail five times, prompting a judge to threaten her with reform school as a penalty. “I was most comfortable in the courtroom because I could express myself or how I felt,” she explained. “I jumped on board the Civil Right Movement because I couldn’t sit in a restaurant and eat or go in a movie theater without having to go in the balcony. My experiences as a teen-ager gave me the confidence and pre-pared me for life’s battles.” That confidence can be seen on her face in a photo that now hangs in the Library of Congress capturing Soror Bond-Shropshire’s attendance at the 1963 march while proudly sing-ing “We Shall Overcome” with Golden Frinks, one of the unsung heros of the Civil Rights Movement who was personally selected by Dr. King as a field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The photo also appears on a Smithsonian bill-board on the corner of 14th and Constitution streets in Washing-ton, D.C. in anticipation of the opening of the African-American Museum in 2015. “The struggle for civil rights is never ending,” said Bond-Shropshire. Deltas “Turning the Ships Around” When we think about the 1963 March on Washington, our minds are immediately trans-ported to the image of Dr. Mar-tin Luther King Jr. delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech and hearing his thunderous voice as he shared his vision with the Ameri-can people. Little attention is paid to Dr. Dorothy I. Height, 10th National President of Delta Sigma Theta, who was one of very few women on stage as Dr. King described his dream. Nor are we told of how Soror Daisy Bates, an honorary member, spoke immediately after Dr. King, but her voice was masked by the crowd’s applause, chants and overall excite-ment evoked by Dr. King. Regardless of the time, Delta Sig-ma Theta has always advocated for social change. Just as history mak-ers such as Height and Bates were Soror Jacquelyn Bond-Shropshire, 65, standing with the 1963 picture of her attending the March on Washington now hang-ing in the Library of Congress. PHOTO COURTE SY OF THE SHROPSHIRE FAMILY


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